Roger Rosenblatt said this about book lending:
Should we not abjure our pettiness, open our libraries, and let our most valued possessions fly from house to house, sharing the wealth. Certain clerics with vows of poverty did this Inside their books was printed not EX LIBRIS but AD USUM–for the use of– indicating that it is better to lend than to keep, that all life’s gifts are transitory.
I agree with a materialistic sort of agony… this extended bit is also by Rosenblatt; I found it in a book I’m reading:
The custom of borrowing books confutes nature. In every other such situation, the borrower becomes a slave to the lender, the social weight of the debt so altering the balance of a relationship that a temporary acquisition turns into a permanent loss. This is certainly true with money. Yet it is not at all true with books. For some reason a book borrower feels that a book, once taken, is his own. This removes both memory and guilt from the transaction. Making matters worse, the lender believes it, too. To keep up appearances, he may solemnly extract an oath that the book be brought back as soon as possible; the borrower answering with matching solemnity that the Lord might seize his eyes were he to do otherwise. But it is all play. Once gone, the book is gone forever. The lender, fearing rudeness, never asks for it again. The borrower never stoops to raise the subject.
Here is a great little bit of gratitude from author Christopher Morley upon his lent items being returned:
When I loaned this book, I deemed it as lost; I was resigned to the business of the long parting; I never thought to look upon its pages again. But now that my book has come back to me, I rejoice and am exceedingly glad! Bring hither the fatted morocco and let us rebind the volume and set it on the shelf of honor, for this my book was lent and is returned again!
The worst part about lending a book to someone, in my opinion is not that you may never see it again. It’s not even that it will return to you torn or stained or chewed by toddlers or dogs. The worst part about lending a book to someone is if they return it to you and you ask them with a quivering eagerness: “What did you think?” And for a brief moment all the cosmos of the heavens hold their breath in suspense and the world pauses waiting to hear the judgement of whether or not the new, beautiful reality has set in on this reader… “It was okay.” Comes the unmistakable slap in the face. And Atlas buckles under the weight of the world just an inch, and the heavens sigh in a chasm of despair that yet another cold, raisin -hearted individual has failed to opened anew…